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FAQs for Debtors
Where can I obtain the required bankruptcy forms?
If hiring an attorney is not possible, you can download the necessary bankruptcy filing forms from the Court’s website at the Forms menu item.
Should I use a Document Preparer to assist me in filing bankruptcy?
There are agencies and individuals who run businesses which assist individuals in preparing legal documents for a fee. These agencies will help debtors by taking information supplied by the debtor(s) and creating the forms necessary for filing a bankruptcy case. They may be helpful to you in explaining general procedures. They are not attorneys and are not allowed to give legal advice as part of their services. They cannot represent debtors in court. The Preparer must completeForm B19. This form must be filed with the bankruptcy petition and schedules.
I've heard I can only file a case under Chapter 13. Is this true?
In 2005, the United States Congress passed bankruptcy legislation which includes new income and expense considerations when filing for bankruptcy, and may require debtors with income above a certain amount to file under Chapter 13 instead of under Chapter 7, depending on their income and expenses. This however is a very individual determination based on each person’s income, household expenses and debts. To properly understand which chapter would be right for you, it is strongly recommended that you contact a qualified bankruptcy attorney. The Clerk's office is not allowed to give legal advice and can't tell you how these new requirements will affect you.
Will the automatic stay stop creditors from calling my home and work?
Yes, it should. After you file your bankruptcy petition with the court commencing a case, the Clerk's office will send a written notice of your bankruptcy filing to all of your creditors at the addresses you list on your creditor mailing list. Although this notice goes out within one to two days of case filing, it may take up to a week or longer for creditors to receive this notice because of mail time. If a creditor calls after you have filed your petition, simply tell them you have filed for bankruptcy, give them the case number and the district (the state in which you filed), and indicate that they will receive notice of this in the mail. If the creditor was not listed on your mailing list, you shoud amend your bankruptcy schedules with the Clerk's office so that future notices about your bankruptcy can be sent to that creditor. Adding a creditor later on requires a fee. It is important to make sure you list all your creditors on your initial creditor list, because if a creditor doesn't get notice of your bankruptcy, his debt might not be discharged in your bankruptcy, and adding them later on will cost you more money.
Once a creditor receives notice of your bankruptcy filing, they may not attempt collection of a debt from you unless they follow certain actions, such as obtaining relief from stay, allowed by the court. If a creditor continues to try to collect a debt from you after being notifed of your bankruptcy, you should contact an attorney immediately for advice.
What is the Automatic Stay?
The filing of bankruptcy petition automatically stays (stops) most actions, including collections, foreclosures and reposessions, against the debtor or the debtor's property. It is called "automatic" because the stay begins automatically at the time the bankrutpcy case is filed with the Clerk's office. Once the stay is in place, creditors are prohibited from taking certain actions against a debtor without court permission. Some creditors, particularly those involved with repossessions or foreclosures, may immediately file pleadings with the court to go forward with foreclosure or repossessions actions. It is strongly recommended that you consult wth a bankruptcy attorney to verify that the automatic stay is applicable to your specific circumstances.
Where do I go to look up legal terms used in bankruptcy?
There is a glossary of bankruptcy terms on our website. You can look up words used in bankruptcy that are not familiar to you there.
What is the Bankruptcy Code?
First enacted in 1978 and substantially revised in 2005, the Bankruptcy Code contains the statutes (laws) that grant legal forgiveness of debt for businesses or individuals in financial difficulty. There are two primary types of bankruptcy relief available undert the Code: liqudation (Chapter 7) or reorganization (Chapters 11, 12 and 13). These options are best discused with a qualified attorney. The Bankruptcy Code is available at your local law library.
What is the difference between Chapters 7,11 and 13?
Chapter 7: Often called the "liquidation chapter," Chapter 7 is used by individuals, partnerships, or corporations who have no hope for repairing their financial situation. In Chapter 7, the debtor's estate is liquidated under the rules of the Bankruptcy Code. Liquidation is the process through which the debtor's non-exempt property is sold for cash by a case trustee and the cash is distributed to creditors. At the conclusion of this process, individual debtors receive a discharge of their dischargeable debts.
Chapter 11: Often called the "reorganization chapter," Chapter 11 allows corporations, partnerships, and individuals to reorganize their debts, without having to liquidate all their assets. In a Chapter 11 case, the debtor presents a plan to creditors which, if accepted by the creditors and approved by the Court, will allow the debtor to reorganize personal, financial or business affairs and again become financially productive.
Chapter 13: An individual with regular income who is overcome by debts, but believes such debts can be repaid within a reasonable period of time, may file under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 13 permits the debtor to file a plan in which the debtor agrees to pay a certain percentage of future income to the Bankruptcy Court for payment to creditors. If the Court approves the plan, the debtor will be under the Court's protection while repaying such debts.
Can the case filing fee be waived?
Only in a very limited circumstance and with court approval can the case filing fee be waived. For chapter 7 individual cases only, there is a procedure for proceeding In Forma Pauperis if the debtor’s income is less than 150 percent of the official poverty line applicable to your family size and you are unable to pay the fee in installments. If you cannot afford to pay the fee either in full at the time of filing or in installments, then you may request a waiver of the filing fee by completing Form B3B and filing it with the Clerk of Court. A judge will decide whether you have to pay the fee.
Alternatively, an individual debtor (but not a corporation or partnership) who is unable to pay the full fee at the time of filing may, at the time of commencing the case, file an application to pay the fee in installments using officialForm B3A.
Do I need an attorney to file for bankruptcy?
Individuals are not required to have an attorney to file bankruptcy, although it is highly recommended. Corporations, partnerships and trusts must be represented by an attorney to file bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is an extremely technical area of law and many issues can be complicated such as what is considered exempt property, whether or not a debt can be discharged and whether or not the automatic stay applies. In addition, there are a substantial number of documents required to be filed to commence a case, many of which are also extremely technical in nature. An attorney can advise debtors on these issues. The staff at the Bankruptcy Clerk's office cannot give legal advice. If you have questions about filing for bankruptcy or preparing the bankruptcy paperwork, please seek the advice of counsel. If you cannot afford an attorney, please contact one of the following resources: (1) CT Statewide Legal Services at (860)344-0380; or (2) complete a ProBono Application for free representation if your case would be filed in the New Haven or Bridgeport divisions. New Haven Probono Application Bridgeport ProBono Application
Pre-petition credit counseling from an approved agency is a requirement for filing bankruptcy. The list of authorized agencies for the state of Connecticut is listed on the home page of this website.